Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers bus driver guilty of causing fan's death

Callum Phillips Image copyright Mike Gibbons/Spindrift
Image caption Callum Phillips has previous convictions for speeding and not wearing a seatbelt

A bus driver has been convicted of causing the death of a Rangers fan by dangerous driving.

Callum Phillips, 49, from Dalbeattie, had denied killing Ryan Baird by causing an accident near Kilmarnock in October 2016

Mr Baird, 39, from Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway, died at the scene from injures to his chest and abdomen.

He was travelling to Glasgow with the Nith Valley Rangers supporters' club to watch his team play Partick Thistle.

The High Court in Glasgow heard Phillips was driving at speeds of up to 73mph shortly before the collision which claimed the life of Mr Baird.

'Like a rollercoaster'

The bus, which had 37 passengers on board - aged from six to 60 - was described as being "like a rollercoaster" as it entered Crossroads Roundabout on the A76 about 13:00 on 1 October 2016.

It crashed into a lamp post and then skidded along on its side before coming to a halt.

Passenger Heather Geddes, 25, who was on the bus as part of a birthday treat, described Phillips as "flying down the road with his foot to the floor."

Mr Baird, from Sanquhar, died trapped in the wreckage, Graeme Slider, 30, from Dumfries-shire suffered a fractured pelvis, John Campbell, 69, needed skin grafts on his arms and John Torrance suffered fractured ribs and internal bleeding.

Phillips, a father-of-two, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

Image copyright PoliceScotland/RyanRowe
Image caption Ryan Baird died in the crash as fans made their way to the Rangers v Partick Thistle game

Judge Lady Stacey ordered background reports and continued his bail, but told Phillips: "Do not get your hopes up about the sentence."

She deferred sentence until next month and placed an interim driving ban on Phillips, who has been a bus driver for 27 years.

Prosecutor Richard Goddard told the court that Phillips had previous convictions, including one in 2015 for speeding which resulted in a £200 fine and penalty points.

He also has a conviction from 2005 for not wearing a seat belt.

'Even faster'

The court heard that after the fatal crash Phillips was off work for two months and left Brownriggs, the company he had been working for.

Phillips then got another job driving, which he described as: "Coach driving, just schools."

During the trial Phillips had claimed that the brakes on the Iveco bus were not working.

But experts from the DVSA and from an Iveco dealership found no defects after examining them.

Phillips also disputed the tachograph evidence that showed he drove for considerable periods during the hour-long journey from Thornhill, Dumfries-shire, at 63mph and at one point at 73mph.

The speed limit for buses on the A76 is 50mph.

Nursery nurse Caitlin Hamilton, 23, from Sanquhar, who was travelling behind the bus from Mauchline, said: "I remember saying to my mum 'that bus is going far too fast. I canny catch up.'

"At that point I was doing 60 to 63 mph.

"I just thought to myself it was not going to make it round that roundabout. It was just going far too fast."

Passengers on the bus told the court that Phillips' driving was "erratic and fast" and said he drove even faster after having to double back at Cumnock to pick up two people.

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